As a center for teaching and learning, the Higgins Academic Center (the HAC) serves
as a repository, clearinghouse, and sponsor for resources and programming on professional
teaching techniques, academic strategies, and other research-based educational resources.
Support to students and faculty is available in all areas of Instruction, as well
as in Writing across the Curriculum, Speaking across the Curriculum, and Instructional
Technology. Tutoring and mentoring services are offered to promote academic excellence
and to provide individualized academic support to all students at the College.
The HAC's Founding and Growth Over the Years
Named in memory of Patrick John Higgins, a 1990 alumnus of Randolph-Macon College,
the Higgins Academic Center was officially dedicated on October 14, 1995. Because
of Patrick's struggle with dyslexia during college, family and friends agreed to
provide academic support services through the Patrick John Higgins Memorial Fund.
The fund supports services for students registered with the office of Disability
Support Services and helps the Higgins Academic Center facilitate community acceptance
and understanding of individuals with disabilities.
In its early years, the HAC was a part of the Dean of Students' Office's student
support services. At that time, it consisted of two main areas: instruction and
disability support. But, in 2002, the HAC became a part of Academic Affairs, reflecting
the College's central mission and commitment to teaching and learning and the HAC's
role in assisting students and faculty to meet this mission. Today, more than half
of the student body visits the HAC in any given year, and the Center holds workshops
and briefings for students and faculty, and logs more than 3,500 individual appointments
Helping Students to Achieve their Full Potential
The HAC's student resources are abundant: there is a Writing Center and a Speaking
Center, as well as tutoring available to support nearly all majors and minors at
the College. Students can also get help with using the latest technology in their
course work by visiting the Instructional Technology office. Peer and professional
tutoring is free to all students in most academic subject areas. It can be received
either during drop-in hours or by appointment. Whenever possible, Supplemental Instruction
(SI) is provided for freshmen mathematics courses. Outstanding math majors on the
HAC tutoring staff attend classes with the freshmen and provide out of class review
sessions and individual tutoring.
In addition, peer and professional mentoring is free to all students who request
it. Mentors work individually with students to assist them with study strategies,
time management, strategies for preparing for and taking tests, note taking, effective
reading skills and other areas of effective learning. Mentors also guide students
toward appropriate campus resources, assist in the design of individualized learning
contracts and act as liaisons between students and faculty. Mentors assist in planning
and conducting skills workshops for classes, organizations and residence halls.
Supervised Study Hall is also available.
Finally, the College's Office of Disability Support Services is also housed in the
HAC. This office works closely with students who have been diagnosed with a physical,
psychological, or learning difference (including temporary physical impairments,
such as broken arms and legs, concussions, and other acute illnesses) to ensure
that they are provided with reasonable accommodations to support them in their academic,
social, and residential lives on campus.
Macon Academic Progress (MAP) and Early MAP
The HAC also manages two early support programs for first year students. Macon Academic
Progress (MAP) is an academic partnership for first year students who receive two
or more unsatisfactory grades at the mid-term of the fall semester. MAP students
are required to fulfill the requirements of an individualized learning contract
that includes weekly meetings with a trained mentor, regular tutoring appointments,
skills workshops, and other services deemed appropriate for the student. MAP students
who take the program seriously and who meet the terms of their individual learning
contracts can expect to improve their grades, on average, by a full letter grade.
The second early support program available through the Higgins Academic Center is
Early MAP. In this program, first-year and transfer students whose Admissions profiles
suggest they might benefit from priority access to academic support services are
paired with a mentor from the time that they arrive on campus at the start of their
first years. The Early MAP program is supported by a generous grant from the Jessie
Ball duPont Religious, Charitable, and Educational Trust.
The HAC Directors also work closely with other academic and student support services
staff through partnerships with the Dean of Students Office, the College's Counseling
Center, the Health Center, and the Butler Multimedia Learning Laboratory (located
in Haley Hall).
Supporting Faculty Teaching and Research
The HAC also strives to support faculty research and teaching. The directors of
each of the five areas (instruction, speaking, instructional technology, disability
support, and the writing center) are available to consult with faculty upon request.
In addition, each director periodically schedules faculty development workshops
on topics of broad concern. The Director of Instructional Technology provides an
annual "Tech Talk" during each January Term break week to share the latest in instructional
technologies with the faculty. All directors cultivate collaborative relationships
with faculty and other college officials to enable them to serve the cause of teaching
and learnng effectively. The HAC also maintains a small resource library of materials
relating to teaching and learning that faculty members are encouraged to consult
for teaching tips, pedagogical design recommendations, and information concerning
best practices in teaching and learning.